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Saint Augustine (354–430)

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Saint Augustine was born to a Catholic mother and a pagan father on November 13, 354, at Thagaste, near Algiers. He studied Latin literature and later taught rhetoric in Rome and Milan. He originally joined the Manicheans, a religious sect, but grew unhappy with some of their philosophies. After näytä lisää his conversion to Christianity and his baptism in 387, Augustine developed his own approach to philosophy and theology, accommodating a variety of methods and different perspectives. He believed that the grace of Christ was indispensable to human freedom, and he framed the concepts of original sin and just war. His thoughts greatly influenced the medieval worldview. One of Augustine's major goals was a single, unified church. He was ordained a priest in 391 and appointed Bishop of Hippo, in Roman Africa, in 396. Augustine was one of the most prolific Latin authors in terms of surviving works, and the list of his works consists of more than one hundred separate titles. His writings and arguments with other sects include the Donatists and the Pelagians. On the Trinity, The City of God, and On Nature and Grace are some of his important writings. Confessions, which is considered his masterpiece, is an autobiographical work that recounts his restless youth and details the spiritual experiences that led him to Christianity. Many of Augustine's ideas, such as those concerning sin and predestination, became integral to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. In the Catholic Church he is a saint and pre-eminent Doctor of the Church, and the patron of the Augustinians. He is the patron saint of brewers, printers, and theologians. Augustine died on August 28, 430. (Bowker Author Biography) näytä vähemmän

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Merkitty avainsanalla


Kanoninen nimi
Saint Augustine
Virallinen nimi
Hipponensis, Aurelius Augustinus
Muut nimet
Augustinus, Aurelius
Augustine of Hippo
Szent Ágoston
San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, Pavia, Italy
Roman Empire
Maa (karttaa varten)
Thagaste, Numidia, Roman Empire [now Souk Ahras, Algeria]
Hippo Regius, Numidia, Roman Empire
Hippo Regius, Numidia, Roman Empire
rhetoric professor
Roman Catholic Church (ordained 391)
Palkinnot ja kunnianosoitukset
Doctor of the Church (1298)
Lyhyt elämäkerta
Augustine of Hippo (Latin: Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine or Saint Austin, was an early Christian theologian whose writings were very influential in the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy. He was bishop of Hippo Regius (present-day Annaba, Algeria) located in the Roman province of Africa. Writing during the Patristic Era, he is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers in the West. Among his most important works are City of God and Confessions, which continue to be read widely today.



What's the role of reason in Faith?, Faith and Reason (huhtikuu 2017)


Simultaneously read a contemporary academic translation by Peter Constantine (University of Connecticut) and a contemporary translation by a non-academic, Benignus O'Rourke of the Order of St. Augustine, that seeks to make the text more easily accessible by simplifying the sentence structure and, uniquely, breaking the lines into short poetic-like units of text. Augustine likely would have approved such an effort as he wrote in a simpler Latin than that of the famous orators and intellectuals of his own day that he taught to students for many years, and in the work bemoans that he was initially put off by the simplicity of language of the Christian scriptures: "It struck me as unworthy of comparison to the distinction of a Cicero. My strutting pride shunned the simplicity of the Scripture, my eye not keen enough to penetrate its interior." (trans. Constantine).

Could my own strutting pride enjoy a translation inspired by a desire to provide today's youth with a text that is easy to follow, non-poetry formatted to impersonate poetry? Happily yes! Clarity is no fault, and the poetic-like structure works I think. Here's an example where I think it heightens the emotion that Augustine wants to communicate, concerning his state of mind following the death of a close friend when he was a young man. First, Constantine:
Not in shady groves, not in amusements, nor in song could my soul find repose, nor in fragrant gardens or sumptuous feasts, not in the pleasures of bed and couch, not in books or poetry. Everything repelled me, even light itself. Everything was irksome and vile that was not what he was, everything except for laments and tears, since it was in those alone that I found a little solace.

Now O'Rourke:
Not in sheltered groves,
not in music or play,
not in gardens scented with flowers,
nor in feasting and company;
not in the pleasures of love,
not even in books, nor in poetry,
could my soul find rest.

All these I hated.
I hated the daylight.
Everything that was not him was painful and hurtful to me.
Only in my tears and sighs
did I taste some little peace.

Here's an instance where O'Rourke adds clarity to the passage that in its reference to the Roman god Jupiter would surely have been clearly understood two thousand years ago, but using a strict translation today it isn't quite so clear. Constantine:

Did I not read in you of Jupiter the thunderer and adulterer - he surely could not have been both, but was presented as such so that a fictitious thunder might mimic and pander to real adultery.

Have to admit I didn't quite follow Augustine's point there. What's all that about thunder and why can't you thunder and adultery both? Then I read the O'Rourke:

It was an accepted belief in the studies I followed
that Jupiter was both the one
who sends his thunderbolts on the wicked
and the one who was also an adulterer.
How could he possibly be both?
But so the story goes.

The result is that those who follow him in adultery
can put a bold face on it
by making false pretence of thunder.

Aha, Augustine is highlighting the hypocrisy of the gods in classical texts and how this is also present in humans, blustering one way yet behaving in quite another. This regrettable aspect of human nature was copy/pasted onto Roman gods, leaving Augustine unconvinced that what he was reading and teaching to Rome's youth bore witness to actual truth. And one thing the Confessions makes clear, that I didn't really appreciate earlier, is that Augustine was embarked on a long journey in search of Truth from a young age, from reading Cicero to the community of the Manicheans to the philosophy of the Neoplatonists and finally to baptism in the Christian faith after becoming convinced by it after years of first intellectual resistance and then years of a resistance of his will (the famous "make me chaste, but please, not yet" years).

O'Rourke's unique translation is one I would highly recommend then, although he only translated the first 9 of the 13 books of the Confession, those in which Augustine composes the world's first written autobiography in the modern sense. Books 10 through 13 are a philosophy of time and memory, and an exegesis of Genesis. These more academic topics must be read in an academic translation. But O'Rourke gives us Augustine's personal journey of the intellect, of the heart, of the seeker, in a highly relatable reading that can seem quite contemporary.

I was delighted to hear Ambrose
often saying in his sermons to the people,
and saying it with emphasis,
The letter kills,
but the Spirit gives life.

When he lifted the veil of mystery from the Scriptures
and opened to the people the spiritual meaning of texts,
which taken literally would seem to be absurd,
he said nothing that would offend.
Even so, I did not know whether what he said was true.


What you were I did not know.
But that you did exist,
and that the care of human affairs was in your hands,
I did believe.

This conviction was at times strong, at times fickle.
But at all times I believed that you existed and that you cared for us,
even though I did not know how I ought to think about you,
or work out what way would lead us to you,
or lead us back to you.


These books bade me
to return to myself.
So with you as guide
I entered into my deepest self.
But only because you helped me
was I able to do this.
I entered, then,
and with the eye of my soul
I saw the light within,
the light which never changes.

Or, one might say, there is a light and it never goes out (Morrissey. Not translated.).
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
lelandleslie | 156 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Feb 24, 2024 |
Merkitty asiattomaksi
RBCNC | 156 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 16, 2024 |
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artiefly | 156 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 16, 2024 |
I don't know where to begin in reviewing this. I will just say as a Christian, I would suggest to anyone that delves deeply into the study of Scripture, philosophy, and theology needs to read this work. Both memoir and exploration of Augustine's allegorical beliefs. Definitely something to chew over in the mind and spirit.

This translation and the copious notes made the reading much easier for me to follow.
Merkitty asiattomaksi
wvlibrarydude | 156 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 14, 2024 |


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